Remarks by Secretary Antony J. Blinken at a Joint Press Availability with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesperson
For Immediate Release
November 10, 2021

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Good afternoon, everyone.  I am delighted to welcome Foreign Minister Kuleba here.  Dmytro, it’s always wonderful to have you in the United States at the State Department.  To you, to the entire Ukrainian delegation, including the Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine Andriy Yermak, welcome to Washington, and welcome especially for the relaunch of the U.S.-Ukraine Strategic Partnership Commission.

This is the first meeting of the commission since 2018, and we intend to make this more regular, given how crucial this relationship is to both of our countries.

The purpose of this meeting is not only to maintain our strong relationship, but to deepen it, and expand to new areas of cooperation, so that we advance our shared interests and meet our shared challenges.

And that’s very much reflected in the ambitious agenda that we’ve had before us for today’s dialogue.  It touches on everything from energy security to digitalization, to making our democracies more inclusive, and it’s rooted in the deep and longstanding ties between our nations and between our people.

As President Biden made clear when President Zelenskyy visited in September, and as I underscored when standing alongside President Zelenskyy in Ukraine back in May, and as the President and I reaffirmed again when we saw President Zelenskyy at COP26: the United States commitment to Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity is ironclad.

And that’s something that I said again to Dmytro today.  It’s a position that will not change.  We stand with Ukraine.

We’re concerned by reports of unusual Russian military activity near Ukraine.  We’re monitoring the region very closely, as we always do, we’ll continue to consult closely as well with allies and partners on this issue.  And as we’ve made clear, any escalatory or aggressive actions would be of great concern to the United States.  We continue to support de-escalazation – de-escalation – excuse me – in the region and diplomatic resolution to the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

The updated U.S.-Ukraine Charter on Strategic Partnership that the foreign minister and I signed today affirms the United States unwavering commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

It reflects our countries’ continued commitment to advance the mutual priorities set forth in the September 1 Joint Statement signed by President Biden and President Zelenskyy, and outlines key areas of cooperation – including security, the rule of law, and economic transformation.

Another key topic for the Strategic Partnership Commission is Ukraine’s ongoing – and ambitious – efforts to strengthen democracy and tackle corruption.  We know from our own experience how hard it is to reform institutions.

We also know that there are powerful interests both inside and outside Ukraine that are doing everything that they can to undermine these reform efforts and put their narrow interests above the interests of the Ukrainian people.  And we recognize the important steps that Ukraine has taken – like finalizing the National Anticorruption Bureau law just last month – even as much work remains to be done.

That’s why the United States will continue to support the vital efforts of reformers in Ukraine’s government and vibrant civil society, as well as its broader Euro-Atlantic aspirations – a priority that I underscored on my visit to Kyiv a few months ago.  The Strategic Partnership Commission includes specific concrete steps toward achieving those goals.

We’re also discussing ways to ensure the security of energy supply to Ukraine.  That includes providing new funding to help Ukraine diversify its energy resources, working with key allies and partners to bring to bear all available leverage in pressing for an extension of Ukraine’s gas transit agreement with Russia, and supporting Ukraine’s efforts to connect its electrical grid to Europe’s.

So, in closing, the revitalized Strategic Partnership Commission is just one of many ways that we’re strengthening the Ukraine-U.S. partnership, and setting the course for closer collaboration in the months and years ahead.  And we look forward to seeing the progress that we’re making today be realized, be implemented as we carry forward in a partnership that is of great importance to both of our countries.

With that, Dmytro.